TWO TYPES OF PEOPLE, TWO PATHS

It is repeatedly indicated in the Gurbani that there are only two different groups of people living together on earth: the Gurmukhs (the followers of Truth and truthful living, one who applies the Gur-Shabad to his daily life, etc.) and the Manmukhs (the deniers of Truth and truthful living, one who does not apply the Gur-Shabad to his daily life, etc.). The SGGS asks us to become the Gurmukhs.

While animals can follow only their natural instincts, the man is blessed with the faculty of Viveka (the power to discriminate between truth and false or right and wrong) to choose between the two paths available to him – 1) the path of “ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ – Paravirti”, and 2) the path of “ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ – Niravirati”.

  • ਦੋਵੈ ਤਰਫਾ ਉਪਾਇ ਇਕੁ ਵਰਤਿਆ ॥ ਬੇਦ ਬਾਣੀ ਵਰਤਾਇ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਵਾਦੁ ਘਤਿਆ ॥ ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਹਾਠਾ ਦੋਵੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਧਰਮੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਰੈਬਾਰਿਆ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਕਚੇ ਕੂੜਿਆਰ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਨਿਹਚਉ ਦਰਗਹ ਹਾਰਿਆ ॥: The One Lord created both sides (or types i.e., the Gurmukhs, the Manmukhs, etc.) and pervades the expanse. He manifested the words of the Vedas (ਬੇਦ ਬਾਣੀ), and (also) arguments in them (i.e., arguments between the different schools of philosophies or thoughts e.g, dualistic versus non-dualistics, etc.). Paravirti (ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ: ਜਗਤ ਦੇ ਧੰਧਿਆਂ ਵਿਚ ਖਚਿਤ ਹੋਣਾ, worldly ways, obsession with involvements in Maya, attachment, possesiveness, inclination, tendency, addiction, trend, pursuit, activitiy, etc.) and Niravirati (ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ: ਦੁਨੀਆ ਤੋਂ ਉਪਰਾਮ ਰਹਿਣਾ, ਜਗਤ ਤੋਂ ਨਿਰਲੇਪ ਰਹਿਣਾ – to remain detached from the world, etc.) are the two paths (ways, etc.) God has created; He is also Dharma between the two. But the foolish Manmukhs deal only with the filth (of Paravirti); they surely end up losing the Spiritual Realm (ਉਹ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਦੀ ਦਰਗਾਹ ਵਿਚ ਬਾਜ਼ੀ ਹਾਰ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ) (sggs 1280).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਨਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਪਛਾਣੈ ॥: By becoimg the Gurmukh, (one) knows Paravirti and Niravirti – ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ (sggs 941).

The first is the path of “ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ – Paravirti” (from the Sanskrit word Pravrtti – प्रवृत्ति) which indicates possessiveness or worldly attachment: man’s natural inclination (worldliness, tendency, addiction, trend, etc.) to engross in the worldly pursuits (ਜਗਤ ਦੇ ਧੰਧਿਆਂ ਵਿਚ ਖਚਿਤ ਹੋਣਾ) and activities by remaining centered in his ego-sense (“I-am-ness”) and obsession with his involvements in Maya. This thought-condition promotes in man acquisitive tendency which is responsible for fueling his material desires, sensuousness, grief, fears, greed, selfishness, impulse, restlessness, indolence, inertia, dullness, negligence, forgetfulness, unenlightened existence, inactivity, headlessness, lethargicness, stormy behavior, agitation, fierce competition, power struggle, rat-race, hunger for status etc. The rise of the psychological ego — relative nature; the seat of “Pravrtti” — is the first misapprehension projected by ignorance, resulting in the non-apprehension of Reality. “Paravirti” keeps us in bondage by the chain of desire-action-goals of life.

  • ਪ੍ਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਮਾਰਗੰ ਵਰਤੰਤਿ ਬਿਨਾਸਨੰ ॥: Engrossed in worldly ways (ਪ੍ਰਵਿਰਤਿ), one is ruined (sggs 1355).
  • ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਜੇਤਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਹੋਈਐ ਤੇਤਾ ਲੋਗ ਪਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਲਉ ਰਿਦੈ ਨਹੀ ਪਰਗਾਸਾ ਤਉ ਲਉ ਅੰਧ ਅੰਧਾਰਾ ॥: The more you walk in the ways of the material world (ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਮਾਰਗ), the more you try to please people. Until the heart is enlightened, one gropes in the darkness of ignorance (sggs 1205).
  • ਨਹ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਮਾਤ ਪਿਤ ਭ੍ਰਾਤਹ ਨਹ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਕਛੁ ਲੋਕ ਕਹ ॥ ਨਹ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਬਨਿਤਾ ਸੁਤ ਮੀਤਹ ਪ੍ਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਸਨਬੰਧਨਹ ॥: Do not worry so much about your Mother, father, siblings, spouse, children, friends, and all those people who are related (to us) because of the possession with involvements in Maya (ਪ੍ਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਸਨਬੰਧਨਹ), do not worry about them (i.e., to worry about all and any is useless) (sggs 1355).

The other path is termed as “ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ – Niravirati” (or ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ – from the Sanskrit word Nivritti – निवृत्ति). It literally means renunciation of the worldly attachment — true detachment from the fleeting world and its gross objects (ਜਗਤ ਤੋਂ ਨਿਰਲੇਪ ਰਹਿਣਾ), including one’s kith and kin. It is the abstraction or withdrawal of the senses from sensory pursuits, without which transcending of Maya (illusion, conditioned consciousness etc.) is not possible. Simply put, it is abandoning one’s lesser self or relativist consciousness to actualize his Higher or Spiritual Self (Aatmaan or “Joti-Svaroopa”). Accordingly, the state of “Niravirati” gives rise to inner peace, balanced joy or happiness, humility, contentment, selflessness, tranquility, inner purity, intuitive wisdom, pure intelligence, noble activity, goodness, enlightenment, tolerance, forgiveness, insight, empathy, inner peace, expanded creativity, reverence, compassion, universal love, reflection, serenity, poise, meditation, contemplation, understanding, and so on. It makes us introspective and discriminative (Viveka Budhi), leading to virtues and righteous conduct. The state of “Niravirati”, thus, is the mental strength which leads to complete obliteration of the ignorance, doubts, and misunderstanding, resulting in knowledge of the true Self (Joti-Svaroopa) and abidance in the true Self.

Clearly, it is up to us as to how we exercise our freedom of choice — to better ourselves through liberation from ignorance or wallow in the quagmire of bondage. Those established in the thought-condition of “Paravirti” are the Manmukhs (materialistic, self-willed, denies of the Truth, etc.), and those soaked in the state of “Niravirati” are the Gurmukhs (Spiritual Beings, Enlightened, follower of the Truth, etc.) in the Gurbani. Manmukhs live in forgetfulness of their spiritual nature, whilst Gurmukhs ever abide in it. Without knowing the true blissful nature of the Self, the majority of humanity (more than 99.9 percent) out of ignorance is said to be caught in “Paravirti”: the whirlpool of worldly or unenlightened existence.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਨਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਪਛਾਣੈ ॥: By becoimg the Gurmukh, (one) knows Paravirti and Niravirti – ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ (sggs 941).
  • ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਹਾਠਾ ਦੋਵੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਧਰਮੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਰੈਬਾਰਿਆ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਕਚੇ ਕੂੜਿਆਰ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਨਿਹਚਉ ਦਰਗਹ ਹਾਰਿਆ ॥: Paravirti (ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ: ਜਗਤ ਦੇ ਧੰਧਿਆਂ ਵਿਚ ਖਚਿਤ ਹੋਣਾ, worldly ways or activities, attachment or obsession with Maya, possesiveness, etc.) and Niravirati (ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ: ਦੁਨੀਆ ਤੋਂ ਉਪਰਾਮ ਰਹਿਣਾ, ਜਗਤ ਤੋਂ ਨਿਰਲੇਪ ਰਹਿਣਾ, to remain detached from the world or Maya, etc.) are the two paths (ways, etc.); Dharma is the Guide between the two. (But) the foolish Manmukhs deal only with the filth (of Parvirti); they surely end up losing the Spiritual Realm. (sggs 1280).
  • ਪਰਵਿਰਤੀ ਨਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਪਛਾਣੈ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਘਰੁ ਜਾਣੈ ॥: (While living in the midst of this world or Maya) one who realizes Parvirti (ਪਰਵਿਰਤੀ: ਜਗਤ ਦੇ ਧੰਧਿਆਂ ਵਿਚ ਖਚਿਤ ਹੋਣਾ, worldly ways or activities, attachment or obsession with Maya, possesiveness, etc.), and Narvirti (ਨਰਵਿਰਤਿ: ਦੁਨੀਆ ਤੋਂ ਉਪਰਾਮ ਰਹਿਣਾ, ਜਗਤ ਤੋਂ ਨਿਰਲੇਪ ਰਹਿਣਾ, to remain detached from the world or Maya, etc.), knows the Home (of his own self within, Nij Ghar…) through the Gur-Shabad (sggs 1027).
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  1. Fauja Singh

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